cALL 800-273-8255 or
text "sos" to 741741
The Power of Peer Support: July is Bereaved Parents Awareness Month - Connie Hunter
a Child: A Parents Worst
Hurts: The State of Mental Health in
America (69 page
PDF) is designed to help you understand crisis trends in
your state and the United States as a whole. This data
comprised of 129 million message collected from our launch
on August 1, 2013 until December 31, 2019busts myths.
(69 page PDF)
In what way is the bereavement process
following suicide different from other types of bereavement?
The participants were 30 survivors of suicide and 30
survivors of car accidents who were interviewed twice at an
average of six months, and the second measure was taken at
an average of nine months after the death, with standardized
questionnaires to measure depression and grief reaction.
Measures of shame, social support, family adaptation,
psychological distress, and prior losses were also obtained
during the second interview. All survivors were parents who
had lost a son aged between 18 and 35 years. The results
indicate that suicide survivors were more depressed than
accident survivors at the first measure but this difference
disappeared at the second measure. Survivors of suicide
experienced greater feelings of shame and had experienced
more life events after the death than did accident
survivors. There was also a greater history of loss in
parents bereaved by suicide. Parental bereavement after
suicide appears to differ in several ways from other types
of bereavement and appears to happen more often in
Study objective: To describe gender specific suicide rates associated with partners psychiatric disorder, loss of a spouse, or child by suicide or other causes, being a parent, and marital status.
Main results: The suicide risk in women whose partner had been first admitted with a psychiatric disorder after 31 December two years earlier was 6.9 (95% CI 3.6 to 13.0), whereas their male counterpart experienced a risk of 3.9 (2.7 to 5.6); p value gender difference?=?0.39. Men who had lost their partner by suicide or other causes of death experienced a suicide risk of 46.2 (18.3 to 116.4) and 10.1 (6.5 to 15.8), respectively; the analogous risk among women were about one third: 15.8 (6.6 to 37.4) and 3.3 (1.5 to 7.2), respectively. Child bereavement by suicide or other causes imposed an approximate twofold risk increase in their parents, whereas being a parent was protective in women. Except for widows (1.6, 1.2 to 2.0) and widowers (3.0, 2.3 to 3.9) the suicide risk associated with being separated (2.0, 1.8 to 2.3), divorced (1.8, 1.7 to 2.0), never married (1.4, 1.3 to 1.6), cohabitant (1.2, 1.1 to 1.3) was virtually the same in the two sexes.
Conclusions: The suicide risk
is associated with partner psychiatric illness. Conjugal
bereavement is particularly indicative of suicide in men,
and spousal suicide is particularly indicative of suicide.
Child bereavement is associated with parental suicide, while
being a parent is protective against suicide in
Bereavement from suicide results in a
difficult and complex adjustment for the surviving friends
and family members. As compared to other forms of
bereavement, suicide survivors are likely to experience more
intense grief reactions and may suffer from social rejection
and alienation. The present study was designed to compare
bereavement from suicide with other forms of bereavement on
standardized measures of grief, stress, and social supports.
College students who were bereaved during the past five
years were classified into five groups based on the cause of
death: suicide, homicide, accidental death, natural
anticipated death, and natural unanticipated death. All
participants provided information about their perceived
availability of social support, subjective distress
reactions, and grief reactions. Bereavement from suicide was
associated with more intense grief reactions than the other
four groups. However, the five bereavement groups were
similar on most measures of social support and subjective
distress reactions. The present results suggest that
bereavement from suicide poses added difficulties not seen
in other forms of bereavement.
The loss of a loved one to death is
widely recognized as a challenging stressor event, one that
increases risk for the development of many psychiatric
conditions. One key risk factor is the mode of death. This
article briefly reviews the literature about the impact of
suicide as a mode of death on those who are grieving this
type of loss, known as suicide survivors. Within
suicidology, the term suicide survivor has come
to refer to a person who is grieving after the suicide of a
loved one, not someone who has survived a suicide attempt.
This article also describes some of the interventions that
may be appropriate for survivors and offers general
guidelines for the provision of compassionate bereavement
care after a suicide.
Basic Health Concerns
Grief is very tiring and it is important to continue your daily health routines.
Grief does not have to be as isolating as it seems.
Read books or articles on the process of grief so you can identify what you are feeling and have some ideas on how to help yourself.
Be Kind to Yourself
If you want some time alone, take it as often as needed.
Help for your family relationships
Good communication is necessary. People cannot read your mind. They may not know that a certain day is difficult, or they may not know how to help you.
Source: Adapted from an article by Helen Fitzgerald, CDE, Training Director, American Hospice Foundation. Reproduced with permission.
Loss & Grief Overview
Everyone can master a grief but he that has it. William Shakespeare
When people are mourning, we think theyve recently suffered the death of a loved one. But in fact, people mourn many things in addition to a loved ones death:
Mourning can begin before a loss has happened. It can also be during or soon after a loss. It can be many years later. Theres no right or wrong time to start mourning. People begin according to their own needs and their own coping styles. Some people may grieve for a few weeks, a month or many months.
The grieving process includes physical changes. You might mistake these for symptoms of an illness such as:
Key Tip 1
Write about your grief. Write about the person or circumstance youre mourning. Describe what youve lost. Describe how you feel about it. Express your sorrow and pain. Honor the person or object youve lost. You may never show your writing to anyone else, but thats not what its for. It can help you through the healing process, even if you never look at it again.
It may help to create a journal or memory book. Gather pictures and other things that remind you of who or what you grieve for. These things can also help you talk about it, which you may want to do now and then. One of the signs of coping with your grief is being able to tell stories about the person youve lost. Then instead of feeling upset, youre able to smile about fond memories.
Key Tip 2
Once youre ready, take a day off from mourning. Let yourself enjoy the day without feeling guilty. It wont mean that youve forgotten. Its just that youre just trying to get your life back together again. You can move on.
Key Tip 3
Turn your thoughts to the future again. Make plans, maybe just for tomorrow at first. Soon youll be able to think about what you want to do next week or next month. Think about setting new goals. Or pick up where you left off with old ones that still matter.
Grief is the deepest kind of suffering. Its brought on by terrible loss, hardship or disaster. Mourning allows us to express some of our grief. It is a normal and important part of healthy living.
No two people will work through a loss in the same way. Researcher Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross describes a model of the grieving process that she thinks many people go through. It involves some or all of the following five stages. But not everyone goes through these stages in the same order:
Stage 1: Denial
Denial is often the first line of defense. During this stage, people may say or think things like This isnt happening to me or This is a nightmare; I want to wake up and have this all go away. Thoughts like these act as buffers. They allow people time to collect themselves. Still, grieving people probably dont fully understand whats just happened. So if they dont show strong emotions, its not a sign they dont care. Its a sign of not being able to believe whats happening.
Stage 2: Anger
At this stage, grieving people look for someone or something to blame: A deceased husbands job, boss, doctor or anyone else, as a wife tries to make sense of the loss. Grieving people are sure that the death shouldnt have happened. Somebody is responsible (and perhaps that someone should be punished). Sometimes, someone is truly responsible, such as a drunken driver who kills someone. But sometimes its unfounded. (If hed had a better doctor, his lung cancer would have been cured.) Sometimes, people blame God or fate. These are normal reactions. But in most cases they serve little or no useful purpose.
Stage 3: Bargaining and Guilt
We use this stage to cut a deal. We bargain with God, fate, doctors or whoever we think can reverse our grief. Cure my wifes cancer, and Ill never cheat on my income taxes again, a grieving husband will say. He pretends that he has the power do something, anything, to help his wife. Feeling guilt also gives us a sense that we actually have some control over the outcome. If were guilty of causing this tragedy, then we should be able to make things right again.
Stage 4: Depression
Once they have worked through the first three stages, people begin to feel grief deeply enough to become depressed. As difficult as this period can get, its a sign that mourners are coming to grips with reality. With support from others, they will be able to move on with their lives.
Stage 5: Acceptance
By this final stage, people are willing and able to accept their losses. Now they can begin to forgive themselves and anyone else they blame, rightly or wrongly, for the losses theyve suffered. People who reach this stage often go back to one or more of the previous stages of grief as they continue to work through their losses.
For example, many people experience sudden grief attacks even years after their loss. They are struck with a sudden, vivid reminder of their deceased loved one. Having attacks doesnt mean people have undone all the work it took to recover. Grief attacks usually end quickly, even though they can be deeply distressing.
People dont always experience these five stages the same way. You may find that you experience the stages in a different order. You may find that you go through one or more stages more than once. Theres no typical time schedule for when the stages occur or for when the grieving process is completed.
My father died several months ago. All of us miss him terribly. But my mother seems unable to let go of her grief. She sits in his study for most of every day. She hardly ever goes out. She rarely talks to anyone unless shes spoken to. Should we be getting her some help?
Because everyone grieves differently, there are no ironclad rules that separate normal from abnormal grief. And the sense of mourning can linger for a long time, even in people who are back to their usual daily routines. However, mourning can become obsessive. This may be the case with your mother. If she has any of these conditions, you should help her to see a professional:
Many factors influence how we grieve, for how long, and how intensely. People in the same family wont grieve in the same way just because theyre related. There are many factors that determine how we grieve:
Some people grieve more openly than others. So dont assume that the rest of your family doesnt care anymore. Theyre all coping in their own ways, just as you are, with a very difficult loss.
Our son was killed in a car accident a month ago. Its been very hard for us all. But were really worried about his younger sister. She keeps asking when hes coming back. We try to explain why he cant. Now shes been carrying around a blanket and sucking her thumb. She stopped doing this two years ago. Should we get counseling for her?
Young children usually dont understand death. They dont grieve the same way adults do. Children sometimes fear that something they did brought on the death of someone close like a brother. If shes said anything like this, dont dismiss her concerns. Talk to her about them. You might even say that sometimes youre afraid that you might feel the same way. But then you realize that death is something we cant control or command.
Children often use baby talk or do other things that we thought theyd grown out of when someone they love dies. Its probably a way of reaching out for more comfort and refuge at a time when they and their families are grieving.
Your daughter will probably continue to ask questions. She might talk about her brothers death for some time to come. Be open to what she has to say. Speak honestly about what youre feeling. Let her know that you understand her sorrow and fears. Above all, keep showing your love for her. Make sure she understands that youre hurting, too. Then together you can start to heal.
My parents and I had a terrible time deciding whether or not to have a funeral for my sister. I was against it. I dont believe in grieving publicly. Why do people want to have funerals?
Many people find funerals a key part of coping with the death of a loved one. The rituals of mourning seem to provide comfort. Having friends and family there can help those who are deeply grieving. But some people dont want to mourn in public. Thats perfectly acceptable, too. Try to understand your parents wishes in this case. Losing a daughter is an especially difficult loss.
I know its important to attend funerals. It shows your support and honors the dead. But I always feel so uncomfortable. I never know what to say. Can you help?
When someone you care about is mourning, its hard to know what to do or say. But just by being there, you can help. You can listen carefully, acknowledge his loss, and respond genuinely. Dont worry about whats right to say. Even if you say something like I dont know what to say, but I want you to know that I think of you often and I care, you can provide some real comfort.
You can talk about the deceased. You can remember how much you loved hearing about her love for racehorses. Or you can say how much he meant to you as you were growing up. Someone in mourning can draw real comfort from knowing how much their loved one meant to others.
What To Do When A Loved One Dies
Its not something we like to think about. Its not something we plan for. But we have to deal with it when it happens. What do we do when a loved one dies? What needs to be taken care of? What important decisions must you make? The loss of a friend or family member is always hard. These tips will help you get ready for what lies ahead. They will also help you handle everything you must do.
During the First Moments?
The first moments after death might be very hard. You want to see that your loved ones wishes are met. You also should see to your own needs. You might want to say goodbye before the body is taken away.
Making Medical Decisions
Look Into Pre-Plans
Did your loved one already make plans for a funeral? Did they put their burial wishes in writing? You need to find the answers to the following questions:
Contact a Funeral Home or Provider
You do not have to use a funeral home. It is very common in the United States. Experienced funeral directors can be very helpful. Cremation services can also be set. You can get local referrals. You can also use the following:
The following information about the deceased is needed for a death certificate:
Handle Urgent Matters
You need to reach out to friends and family. You need to review your loved ones day-to-day situation.
Make Funeral Plans
Funeral homes have different plans and services. Some funerals with a casket can cost from six thousand to ten thousand dollars. Most funeral providers suggest buying packages. Some laws say that funeral directors have to list out all information about their services.
Some decisions that need to be made about a service include:
For a copy of the free on-line publication Funerals: A Consumer Guide, contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov or call 1-877-382-4357.
Complete Required Paperwork
You need to stay organized. Keep track of all the paperwork. Let someone else be in charge of keeping the records if you are not good with organization. Make a list of those who should get thank-you notes in the months ahead.
Other important matters need to be taken care of.
Selling a Home
The will should tell you what should happen to the house. That includes everything in the house. Going through everything may be painful. It can also bring back happy memories.
Keep in mind these tips:
How To Deal With Grief
Grief is the normal response that comes from losing someone or something important to you. It is a natural part of life. Grief is a reaction to death. It can be a reaction to divorce. It can also be a reaction to job loss.
How Does Grief Feel?
You may feel empty after a death or a loss. You are in shock. You may notice physical changes such as trembling or nausea. You may have trouble breathing or dry mouth. Your muscles may be weak. You may have trouble sleeping and eating.
You may become angry at a situation, a particular person, or just angry in general. Almost everyone in grief also experiences guilt. Guilt is often expressed as I could have, I should have, and I wish I would have statements.
People in grief may have strange dreams or nightmares, be absent-minded, withdraw socially, or lack the desire to return to work. While these feelings and behaviors are normal during grief, they will pass.
How Long Does Grief Last?
Grief lasts as long as it takes you to accept and learn to live with your loss. For some people, grief lasts a few months. For others, grieving may take years.
The length of time spent grieving is different for each person. There are many reasons for the differences, including personality, health, coping style, culture, family background, and life experiences. The time spent grieving also depends on your relationship with the person lost and how prepared you were for the loss.
How Will I Know When Im Done Grieving?
Every person who experiences a death or other loss must complete a four-step grieving process:
The grieving process is over only when a person completes the four steps.
How Does Grief Differ from Depression?
Depression is more than a feeling of grief after losing someone or something you love. Clinical depression is a whole body disorder. It can take over the way you think and feel. Symptoms of depression include:
If you recently experienced a death or other loss, these feelings may be part of a normal grief reaction. But if these feelings persist with no lifting mood, ask for help.
Moving Through Grief
You Know Youre Getting Better When
The grief process is so slow. Its often a one-step forward and two-steps backwards motion. It is hard to see signs of improvement. The following are clues that will help you to see that you are beginning to work through your grief. You know you are getting better when:
In 2020, the coronavirus is bringing loss to many more American doorsteps. And...Everyones personal grief journey will be different and it will be different for every person, pet, or deep connection you lose. There is no end date There is no specific stage you should be at.
All there is, is how you feel, how you grieve as time passes, and how you cope. And in the coping phase, friends and family can be incredibly helpful. Of course, they can be incredibly unhelpful as well. eterneva.com/resources/coping-with-loss
July is Bereaved Parents Awareness Month (https://bit.ly/387FR3I) As a parent who has lost a child, I know how lived experience and anecdotal information can provide a lifeline for those who are in deep emotional pain from losing a child.
My son, Jason Christopher, was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease just as he turned age 13. In the next months and few years, he went through so much. He was a fighter 18 hospitalizations and 13 surgeries including a kidney transplant (in which I was the live donor).
Because of the way the disease manifests in an adolescent body, when Jason tried to grow, his legs became severely knock-kneed.so knock-kneed that they crossed in the center and had to be surgically fractured and straightened. Through a series of wheelchairs, metal stabilizing bars, braces and casts, his legs were straightened.
Even while his legs were severely knock-kneed, or in various stages of being straightened, Jason took Country swing dance lessons. He marched on the state Capitol in Arizona with his best friend, who happened to be black, to fight institutional racism. He even ran in the track and field relay races at his school for which he received a standing ovation.
Prior to his diagnosis, Jason was a fantastic swimmerthe youngest person, at that time, to ever compete doing the breaststroke and other complicated swimming on the city team.
At age 11, Jason attended a Christian school, and the Christian schools had a state-wide spelling bee. He came in third place. The truth is, there was a judging error and he was knocked out incorrectly, it was recognized later that this was an error. Although he was disappointed, Jason did not hold a grudge. Jason let me know he was ready for the next year but that would be the year he was diagnosed.
Jason completed high school at age 15 and attended Scottsdale Community College at age 16. He insisted on having a part-time job at a movie theater, he was a volunteer for numerous organizations including becoming a volunteer at a nursing home.
The family tradition of volunteerism took hold and even Sergeant John Kyle Daggett, his first cousin, before he was in the military (and even while he was stationed in Iraq), volunteered at nursing homes, as this was documented in the Washington Post after Kyle was KIA.
It is a very, very high likelihood that the birth defects that Jason had (and we were trying to correct) were a result of his fathers military services Agent Orange exposure.
Jason had a laugh that was the most infectious laugh I have a niece, Cara Phillips, who has that same kind of laugh when I hear it I feel joy and sorrow but way more joy.
Our relationship was built on honesty, laughter, and a sincere effort to let each other know that they were appreciated. A week before Jason passed away was Mothers Day. Jason had saved money from his job to buy a bike for himself but he also, secretly, bought a bike for me. He had planned on giving it to me on Mothers Day...it was stored at our neighbors house, but Jason couldnt wait On the Saturday night before Mothers Day, we paid a visit to the neighbors and he surprised me. On Mothers Day we went on a long bike ride. A week later, I would be making the decision to turn off Jasons life support.
The heaviest burden that I ever faced was the day I had to make that decision. Afterword, a family member told me that I had taken the choice out of Gods hands. Survivors guilt haunted me for years it was a Gold Star mother who mentored me with my grief. She had lost her son in Vietnam. I told our grief group about how I was suffering from that decision. She said to me, I would have given anything to be there with my son in his last moments. Thats the power of a peer support groupthe gift of immediate new perspective!
Grief support for me included grief therapy (one on one with two different talk therapiststhe first therapist had terminal cancer) both rendering a PTSD diagnosis for me. In my work with Veterans, I often say Veterans work with me. Because understanding PTSD of combat veterans and other military specialties, and moral injuries such as military sexual trauma, I have learned a lot about managing PTSD even though theirs is different from mine.
When a person loses a family member, they become vulnerable. Without the support that I needed in both group therapy, talk therapy, and in peer-mentor relationships established in grief support groups, I would not still be standing today. During my most vulnerable times, I experienced much support but I also experienced a predator during this long healing journey. That made things even more difficult.
My son and I had a favorite song, Badlands by Bruce Springsteen. In the song, the lyrics talk about perseverance and overcoming hardships. There is a line, It aint no sin to be glad youre alive. One day Ill tell that whole story but we would shout It aint no sin to be glad youre alive and in my grief process this song helps me cope with survivors guilt.
Survivors guilt has been a struggle because we keep losing the young ones in my family. That is my trigger. My nephew, Kyle, was killed in Iraq...a niece by marriage who died of kidney disease also related to her fathers Agent Orange exposure,...a nephew by marriage who died in a motorcycle accident three days before joining the Marines...and, just very recently, four young family members were lost in a car crashages 35, 16, 7, and 5.
Processing grief is never easy. But I promise you, or anyone who is newly bereaved, as hard as it is right now there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Hang in there Get the support you deserve and need and there are people like me who are willing to remind you, It aint no sin to be glad youre alive.
Helping Yourself Through Grief - bit.ly/3g8ywDW
24/7 Crisis Lines - Phone: 800-273-8255; Text SOS to 741741
The Compassionate Friends Due to COVID-19 state restrictions, TCF is not able to meet at the library. The current meeting location is the Event Center located between Feather Your Nest and Tangles, Brookings. Monthly: 1st Tuesday of every month, 6:30 To 8:00 P.M. More info-- contact Georgia, 541-469-5814
Badlands by Bruce Springsteen: youtu.be/f3cecpC75vw
Wasington Post - Sgt. John
"Kyle" Daggett www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/02/AR2008060202768.html
Crisis Text Line - Text "SOS" to 741741
Grief in General -- Introductory material on bereavement
Suicide Grief Primer -- An overview of grief after suicide
Hand to Hold Bereavement Resources
Suicide Grief Websites -- Comprehensive sites focused on suicide bereavement
Suicide Grief Materials -- Booklets, handouts ... about grief after suicide
Online Assistance -- Interactive help available online
Support Groups -- Information about group support for people bereaved by suicide
Special Populations -- For bereaved parents, people of color, peer helpers, clinicians ...
Bereaved Children -- Items for suicide bereaved children, plus children's grief in general
Military/Vets/Families -- Resources for bereaved military, veterans, and their families
Schools/Workplaces -- Best practices for community, work, school responses to suicide
Communities -- Postvention training and principles for communities
Helping Others -- Principles, theories, guidance on assisting the suicide bereaved
Children's Caregivers -- Guidance on helping children bereaved by suicide
First Responders -- Guidance for law enforcement, LOSS Teams